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Government suspends deepwater bid rounds

Published: 
Thursday, September 14, 2017

The T&T deepwater bid round will be delayed until the results are known from BHP Billiton’s next two-well deepwater exploration programme.

This has been confirmed by Energy Minister Franklyn Khan. He shared with this publication that the government wants the results of the wells before it goes out to try and woo international companies to bid on the country’s frontier deepwater.

“In the first instance, we are going out later this year with land and shallow marine, not deep water. This is because obviously we want the exploration cycle in this first round of the deepwater exploration to be concluded and to see what type of results we have before we go back into the market.”

BHP Billiton has so far drilled two wells in the previously unexplored deepwater and has made a gas discovery in its first well Le Clerc and drilled a dry hole in the second well.

Geraldine Slattery, BHP’s asset president, conventional, said that the discovery was the first in the Caribbean’s deepwater.

“We are very encouraged by the large potential gas resource found in the Le Clerc in Block 5 with gas penetrating multiple horizons,” she said.

“We are currently evaluating recoverable gas volume as well as conditions both above and below ground necessary to support the further appraisal of that potential,” she continued.

“Testing new plays in the deepwater Caribbean and around the world has historically taken more than one well to test and we remain very optimistic of a tier one play in Trinidad and will return to drilling in financial-year 2018,” Slattery said.

She added that if the appraisal went as well, it had the potential to hit the market in the near term in the early- to mid-2020s at a time when there is expected to be a gas shortfall in both LNG and in T&T gas supply.

Khan said BHP was yet to appraise the well and said it is a significant gas find but the issue is whether it can cross the economic hurdle for deepwater projects.

“It is a discovery of significant gas, but remember the volumes you need to make deep water economics it is significantly different from shallow water. If made in the shallow water you would be good to go.”

BHP Billiton has pushed back the second phase of its deep water exploration offshore Trinidad from the fourth quarter 2017 to the first quarter of 2018 according to Khan.

Khan said the delay was caused by the Australian outfit’s inability to secure a deepwater drill ship to do a two well programme in the fourth quarter 2017.

On BHP Billiton’s precipitous decline in crude production to down to below 2000 barrels of oil per day from a high when it started of 60,000 bo/d Khan said it’s a combination of natural decline and operational challenges.

BHP has at least an additional six wildcat wells to drill in its Trinidad deepwater programme.